Ronald Federici Loses 3 Lawsuits: Victory for academic freedom and internet free speech

Date: 2010-06-18

by Monica Pignotti

Update: Although Federici lost the initial round as described below, he has appealed all three of these cases, which, if he wins jurisdiction, will be heard before a jury in civil court, continuing to drain the defendants (Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, and Advocates for Children in Therapy) of time and financial resources. Something obviously needs to be done to change the law that permits anyone to sue anyone else, drag them in from out of state, and drain them of financial resources or there will be chilling effects on legitimate rights to free speech and the kind of critical analysis that science needs to move forward.

Ronald Federici, PsyD, sued Advocates for Children in Therapy, Jean Mercer, PhD, and Charly Miller for defamation and interference with business. The cases were heard today in Fairfax, VA, June 18, 2010 and he lost. The judge ruled in favor of the defendants, so this can be considered a crashing defeat for him and a victory for freedom of speech and academic freedom, as well as advocates’ rights to expose, criticize and express concerns about questionable interventions. Although I fully recognize that such freedoms do not give people the right to libel and defame, nothing that has been done in criticism of Federici even remotely constitutes libel and defamation in my opinion and it looks like the judge agreed that he had no evidence of any case against these defendants. My own criticisms of Federici’s work are outlined in several postings on this blog.

The only ruling in his favor was against Psychology Today and based on the information I have, Federici won only by default, because they did not appear in court, so this was basically a technicality that hopefully they can remedy. There would be no reason for PT to lose against Federici based on the case itself, since they were sued due to Jean Mercer’s blog and she appeared in court and won — the court ruled in her favor as defendant. But watch: I predict that Ronald Federici and/or his supporters will try to spin this as a major victory, neglecting to mention their losses and the fact that Jean Mercer, the PT blogger, won her case.

Federici also attempted to sue the owner of the website, Fairfax Underground, Cary Weidemann, but strangely enough given he was the only defendant who was actually local, he was unable to be served (the status of “non-suit” means that the plaintiff has the right to re-initiate the lawsuit within the next six months so it is my understanding that this particular defendant could still be sued up to 6 months later). This could be just a coincidence, but today, the Fairfax Underground website is down. There have been some extremely vicious, obscene attacks on me on that website, although one commenter pointed out that this is making my attackers, not me, look really bad and if Federici or his supporters are suspected of having anything to do with the attacks, they will come off looking very bad indeed.

Since one of the defendants hired a court reporter, transcript containing all the details of Federici’s failed attempt to present a convincing case to the judge including his attempts to question Dr. Mercer, will be available if and when that particular person decides to make them available, but in the meantime, records of the judgments are available at:

http://epwsgdp1.courts.state.va.us/gdcourts/caseSearch.do

CASE NUMBER NAME NAME HEARING DATE JUDGMENT CASE TYPE PAID
GV10006013-00 
Fairfax County General District
Plaintiff:
FEDERICI, RONALD S
Defendant:
WIEDEMANN, CARY S
04/23/2010 09:30 AM
Non-suit
Warrant In Debt
 
GV10008832-00 
Fairfax County General District
Plaintiff:
FEDERICI, RONALD S
Defendant:
MERCER, JEAN
06/18/2010 09:30 AM
Defendant
Warrant In Debt
 
GV10008833-00 
Fairfax County General District
Plaintiff:
FEDERICI, RONALD S
Defendant:
ADVOCATES FOR CHILDREN IN THERAPY
06/18/2010 09:30 AM
Defendant
Warrant In Debt
 
GV10008834-00 
Fairfax County General District
Plaintiff:
FEDERICI, RONALD S
Defendant:
PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
06/18/2010 09:30 AM
Plaintiff
Warrant In Debt
 
GV10008835-00 
Fairfax County General District
Plaintiff:
FEDERICI, RONALD S
Defendant:
MILLER, CHARLY D
 
Defendant
Warrant In Debt
 
GV10010313-00 
Fairfax County General District
Plaintiff:
FEDERICI, RONALD S
Defendant:
WIEDEMANN, CARY S
05/21/2010 09:30 AM
Not Found/Unserved
Warrant In Debt
\
0

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